Fantasy Football Instant Reaction: Broken collarbone for Aaron Rodgers puts Packers in dicey situation
Aaron Rodgers' injury could cost him at least six weeks of playing time -- and maybe more. Fantasy owners will have a hard time making a move to replace him.
It looked like any other typical play where Aaron Rodgers was out of the pocket trying to make a big play.
He fired a pass to Martellus Bennett (which was unceremoniously dropped) and was hit by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Rodgers landed on his right shoulder but didn't bounce right up. He laid on the turf and walked off the field with his right arm hanging straight down while flanked by trainers. He was evaluated in the trainer's tent before taking the cart into the locker room.
What looked typical became uncommon. And incredibly unsettling.
It's the same injury he suffered in 2013 when he broke his left collarbone in a home game against the Bears. He missed seven weeks and came back in Week 17 at Chicago, beating his division rival en route to an NFC North title.
Another week, another big loss for an NFL team ... and another big loss for a Fantasy owner in every single league.
Brett Hundley replaced Rodgers and completed 18 of 33 passes for a modest 157 yards with three interceptions and a short touchdown to Davante Adams. It's a terrible stat line, but at least one interception can't be pinned on him. There's a pretty decent chance he improves with a week's worth of reps in practice as the starter while developing chemistry with the Packers' talented receiving corps.
In fact, one might argue Hundley can be a good game manager in Rodgers' absence. Fine, there's no doubt his paltry 54.5 completion percentage at the Vikings stinks out loud, but it's not indicative of who he is. He nailed 63.4 percent of his preseason passes and hit on 67.4 percent of his passes over three seasons at UCLA. It's evidence that he's not bad. Combine it with the great talent with which the Packers will surround him, and Hundley should be able to piece together some nice games.
Let's work under the assumption that Rodgers will miss at least seven weeks, just as he did in 2013. That puts Hundley under center versus the Saints, Lions, at the Bears, versus the Ravens, at the Steelers and at home against the Buccaneers with a Week 8 bye mixed in. It's not too tough a schedule -- of those six opponents, only the Steelers and Ravens entered Week 6 with a top-10 defense in Fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and receivers, and they've done it playing against many mediocre offenses.
Go ahead and dial down expectations for the Packers receivers moving forward. It seems unlikely that Nelson or Adams will have a lot of 100-yard games with Hundley under center -- not even Hundley's receivers at UCLA had a slew of 100-yard games with him. That makes them touchdown-dependent Fantasy options, albeit ones who should pick up a good dose of catches, just not with ridiculous receiving averages.
At tight end, Martellus Bennett will continue to disappoint Fantasy owners.
The Packers run game also figures to take a hit with Rodgers absent as defenses will stack the box and dare Hundley to throw. We already saw Ty Montgomery handle 10 carries and Aaron Jones work 13 times, each adding one reception, but Jones played 44 snaps to Montgomery's 20, according to Pro Football Focus. Jones looks like the better back of the two, for now, but it's going to be a timeshare regardless.
Does all of this make for Hundley as the go-to guy as a replacement for Rodgers? Let's be real, Hundley's not going to get the job done on a weekly basis. He's a play-the-matchups kind of Fantasy quarterback. Next week at home against the Saints figures to be a decent matchup, but when he plays at Pittsburgh in Week 12 you'll probably steer clear of him.
This means Hundley alone can't replace Rodgers in your lineup. That won't fly, especially during the Packers bye week. And carrying him plus another quarterback plus Rodgers means juggling three quarterbacks from week to week. That won't fly unless you have lots of bench space.
It's time for a hard truth -- cutting Aaron Rodgers might be an actual thing you do.
This can be avoided by not even bothering to roster Hundley and instead trade for a quarterback. Good buy-low candidates include Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan, both of whom have had their byes already. Marcus Mariota and Matthew Stafford also could be easy to acquire, but their byes are coming in the next two weeks.
If you can't make a deal ASAP, then you're looking at streaming quarterbacks, in which case Hundley would be in the equation.
What about Rodgers? That depends on you ...
- If your squad has three or more losses, Rodgers won't help you win anytime soon. Trade him to the best team in your league for whatever you can -- that team would be interested in stashing Rodgers. And if you can't trade him, then .... yeah, cut him.
- If you can keep your team to two losses or less and/or remain in playoff contention, then Rodgers is worth holding for the playoff run, even with no guarantee of him making it back. Of course, you'd already have to have (or would have to get) another real good quarterback to pull this off since most Fantasy owners can't make the playoffs with mediocre passers.
It's another cruel Fantasy Football situation we must endure. Maybe we'll catch a break and Rodgers will be back sooner than later, but until we hear that positive news, expect Rodgers to be a nuisance on Fantasy benches for the next several weeks. Whether or not it's on your bench is up to you.
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